Every kid of my generation when they picked up bat in the backyard wanted be one man: Dean Jones.
There was something different about him.
"Deano" didn't play like anyone else, or very few, of the time.
When Dean Jones was at the crease he was making runs. Taking on the bowlers at every opportunity and bolting between for the wickets for a run at breakneck speed.
He wasn't like many others of the time, content to jog out a single after poking the ball into the outfield. He was running three and the other batsman had best keep up. He was the same in the field.
When Dean Jones was at the crease you knew there was going to be action.
His personality was quirky, different but intriguing. He was a man of the people.
Press boxes can be a pretty daunting place to a young journo, especially if its not in your patch.
I don't know whether it's still the same today, but there was always a hierarchy to a press box. The press up the front are the experienced journos. Let's call them the alphas.
Generally, the well recognised names, working for the major national outlets with a couple of books to their name. Everyone knew them by name and reputation.
Also in that category were the rusted-on local journos. The type who had seen the first blade of grass sprout at the ground.
A young journo from Tasmania stepping into the interstate Press box to cover a Sheffield Shield final knew his place. Back row, top corner.
Imagine that young journo's surprise when the person who would plonk himself down next to him in the press box for the week was none other than Dean Jones.
The man you spent countless hot summer days pretending to be in the backyard was now offering you his snacks and regaling the entire room with his stories.
"Hey Deano, tell us about that time ...," the alphas would say by way of prompting him during slow parts in the play on the ground. And off he'd go.
Like he was on the field taking another lightning-fast single, Deano would light up the room and make it a more interesting place.
On Thursday, we lost a man of the people.
- Julian O'Brien is the editor of the Illawarra Mercury